Games-Zhang's brilliant Asian Games continues with fifth gold medal



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Updates after late results, adds details, quotes

By Ian Ransom and Martin Quin Pollard

HANGZHOU, China, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Asian Games poster-girlZhang Yufei pipped Hong Kong's Siobhan Haughey in a thrilling sprint for the 50 metres freestyle gold medal on Thursday while former Olympic champion Ye Shiwen turned back the clock to claim a breaststroke title.

Home favourite Zhang, better known for her butterfly prowess, posted a time of 24.26 seconds to claim her fifth gold in the Hangzhou pool and send local fans into raptures.

The Olympic 200m butterfly champion is on track to reach her target of seven gold medals in Hangzhou, with the 50m butterfly and 4x100m medley relay on swimming's final day on Friday.

Zhang has been the focus of these Games but the former golden girl of Chinese swimming also made a splash when Ye blitzed the field to claim the 200m breaststroke gold.

At the age of 16, Ye became a global sensation when she took the 200m medley title with a world record swim at the London Olympics and added the 400m medley gold.

Now 27, Hangzhou native Ye returned to the pool for her home Games and is eyeing another Olympics in Paris next year.

"To be able to win this gold medal based on six months’ training has given me great confidence and I hope more training can only prepare me more," she said.

World champion Qin Haiyang cruised to victory in the men's 200m breaststroke final with a time of 2:07.03, adding to his 100m title on Monday.

The owner of the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke world titles from Fukuoka, Qin will look to complete another hat-trick in Hangzhou with victory in the shortest distance on Friday.

ESPORTS SUCCESS

Five years after being a demonstration sport at the Jakarta Asian Games, esports' debut as a medal event has proved a hit at Hangzhou.

With South Korea having long given Asian Games champions exemptions from mandatory military duty, Kim Gwan-woo became the first gamer to secure a leave pass by beating Taiwan's Hsiang Yu-Lin for the gold medal in "Street Fighter V", a fighting game with 1980s origins.

Other South Korean gamers are on track to avoid military service, with a team beating China in the semi-finals of the multi-player battle arena game, "League of Legends."

That team, which includes superstar gamer Lee Sang-hyeok -- better known by his gaming avatar 'Faker' -- meet Taiwan in League's gold medal clash on Friday.

South Korea also celebrated gold in one of the Olympics' oldest sports when their peerless fencers won the men's team sabre title for a third Asian Games in succession.

Oh Sang-guk, Kim Jun-ho and Gu Bon-gil silenced a raucous home crowd by comfortably beating their Chinese rivals 45-33 in the nine-bout final.

Gu, who also won the team sabregold at the 2012 London Olympics, savoured Thursday's win after being beaten for the individual title by team mate Oh.

"(Oh) promised me we would win gold in the team match," said the 34-year-old Gu.

"I dedicate my individual silver medal to my wife and my gold to my baby son."

Taiwan's Lee Chih-kai, who took the pommel horse silver at the Tokyo Olympics, pipped Japan's Ryota Tsumura for the Hangzhou goldwith a score of 15.50.

Chinese tennis player Zheng Qinwen, fresh off her dream run to the U.S. Open quarter-finals, guaranteed at least a silver medal after prevailing in a three-set semi-final against the Philippines' impressive 18-year-old Alex Eala.

Zheng will meet compatriot Zhu Lin in the final.


DIPLOMATIC STRAINS

Diplomatic tension has overshadowed the Games, with North Korean shooters shunning their South Korean counterparts and India upset after three of the country's Wushu athletes were unable to compete due to a visa issue.

The president of the Russian Olympic Committee has also criticised Asian Games organisers for rowing back on a decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Games.

The traditional Chinese martial art of Wushu has been a goldmine for the hosts atAsian Games and so it has proved again in Hangzhou where theytook 11 out of 15 golds.

Iran, the most enthusiastic Wushu nation outside of China, lost three out of three gold medal deciders to local rivals, including an especially bitter defeatfor women's 52-kg fighter Elaheh Mansoryan Samiroumi, now runner-up at three consecutive Games.

Five years after losing to Li Yueyao for the gold at the Jakarta Asian Games, Samiroumi was defeated by her Chinese nemesis again and wept on the podium.



Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Ken Ferris

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